Legislative News for the Week of April 9, 2013

President: Rae Chornenky

Editor: Maria Jeffrey

This Week on the Hill: 

The Gang of Eight is expected to release their comprehensive immigration bill on Thursday; if not Thursday, the bill is expected sometime early next week.
Poll Shows Voters See Republicans as Similar to Themselves Ideologically

           A recent survey of North Star Research for USA Today and the Bipartisan Policy Center asked voters to place themselves and the two major American political parties on a 1 to 7, liberal-to-conservative scale. 

                

           The results show voters feel ideologically closer to the Republican Party than to the Democratic Party. The average respondent placed himself or herself on the scale at 4.44, just slightly right of center.  Most placed Republicans on the right and Democrats on the left, but Democrats were further to the left than Republicans were to the right. The average respondent was at least a full point on the 7-point scale to the left of where they placed Republicans but more than a point and 2/3 to the right of where they placed Democrats.

                

            Fifty percent of voters felt closer ideologically to the GOP whereas 41 percent were closer to Democrats: a nine point advantage for Republicans. Yet, generally in other polls it is Republicans who are more likely to be seen as "extreme." A CNN/ORC poll in December found 53 percent saying the GOP was "too extreme," compared to only 37 percent who expressed that view about Democrats.

                

            A February Pew poll, asking a different question, had a similar 52 percent of respondents calling Republicans "too extreme," while 39 percent applied that label to Democrats.

Job Growth Hits Low Pace

                 

           NBC News Economy Watch reported last week that, under the Obama administration, Labor Department statistics show the U.S. economy created only 88,000 non-farm jobs in March, "much lower than the 195,000 - 200,000 expected and well below February's 254,000 increase."  March's job creation total was the lowest in nine months and was well below the 200,000 new jobs analysts polled by Reuters had expected.

                

           While the unemployment rate dipped to 7.6 percent from February's 7.7 percent, a slower pace of growth in payrolls marked a steep reversal of the recent trend which appeared to be an uptick in the pace of recovery in the labor market. The slower payroll growth pace comes after Washington increased taxes in January and after the sequester's across-the-board federal budget cuts began in March. The figures reported include the fact that the share of the population that is either employed or is looking for work is at 63.3 percent, the lowest since 1979.

                

           The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that 21.7 million Americans are unemployed, underemployed or simply cannot find work. Since Obama took office, the unemployment rate for women has increased from 6.9 percent to 7.6 percent.  The African American unemployment rate has increased from 12.7 percent to 13.3 percent.

Gang of Eight Immigration Bill to be Released

            Senator McCain confirmed that the "Gang of Eight" hopes to release its immigration bill on Thursday, before the senators leave D.C. for their home states. The Gang of Eight has been pressured by Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee who are concerned that the negotiations on the comprehensive immigration bill the Gang of Eight is working on have been held in secret. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said that when the bill emerges, he will consider holding one hearing on the bill. If no hearing is held on the bill, it will skip to the mark-up process, meaning that the Republican caucus and the American people will not have adequate time to assess and debate the merits and demerits of the bill before it proceeds through the Senate. Senators Grassley, Cruz, Lee and Sessions asked the four Republicans in the Gang of Eight to brief the Republican caucus on the bill's progress by close of business yesterday, April 8, but their request was ignored.
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